Looking at the things that have been said throughout WP about you and to you over the last several weeks, it's apparent that somebody really doesn't like you or something you've said or something you've done or the company you keep, or some combination of these. The overall tone of what's been written conveys more than simple mischievousness.
If I were you, I would be particularly wary and vigilant, and careful of where I go and who I meet. Further, I would not advertise my whereabouts or plans to attend any event open to the general public, or where the public would have easy access. In particular, I would not attend the Wiki event at Columbia this Sunday -- anyone wishing to do you harm would have no trouble getting to you and then getting away.
Within WP you've written about the general area where you live in the city, though wisely you've never pinpointed it. Nevertheless I would be cautious in my dealings and encounters anywhere, particularly with strangers. You really never know.
Keep a watchful and suspicious eye wherever you go. I sense that you are not safe.
Special note to anyone considering deleting this post: This message is intended for David Shankbone and should only be removed my him. Should any harm befall Shankbone, and this message is removed without his seeing it, the person removing the message would be complicit in whatever happened to Shankbone. Forewarned is forestalled.--188.8.131.52 16:40, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
David wasn't the person to log in and find that message; I was. And in spite of the warning I went ahead and removed it. Then I notified a Wikinews administrator, who protected the page from further editing, and I contacted David. Usually I keep quiet about this sort of event. Now that David has gone public about his experience I'll say that this example was far from the only disturbing message that targeted him. David did attend that event at Columbia University in spite of the problem.
But it's not really a simple matter of go or don't go. Messages like that one turn an ordinary outing into an undertaking of tactical logistics. First one plans notifications: friends, event organizers, campus security. Then there's the question of how to get to the event and away from it while minimizing the chances of being followed by a malicious stranger. Of course there's also the issue of what to do if a physical attack actually happens, and balancing that there are doubts about whether the danger is serious or only a bluff.
It's not a fun way to live. And it's especially not fun to interact with people who are usually sensible and ought to know your character well enough to trust your judgment, but who treat the problem as a figment of your imagination. Or worse, who dismiss you as a liar and a selfish bluff.
Another dilemma that David faced, and I face, and a core of Wikipedia's most productive and dedicated volunteers face is the question of how much of the situation to disclose.
If you don't expose the problem, dismissive people accuse you of being a drama queen.
If you do discuss the problem, some of those same people play a game called It Isn't Bad Enough. Did you actually get knifed? Did he actually break into your home? No? Pshaw.
If you expose the whole problem those naysayers may stop nettling you, but they won't help you. They'll say the law ought to handle it even if it doesn't. Then they'll walk away. Those naysayers won't care that the trouble you've taken to persuade them a problem exists at all actually worsens the problem. The stalker becomes more engaged and the real danger increases. New individuals who are fundamentally parasitic take an interest in you too.
So I look at Dan Tobias's response to my last post.
Neither David's article nor your response, however, get into the prevalent use of exaggerated accusations of "stalking" and "harassing" that are used constantly on Wikipedia as a "Get Out of Criticism Free Card" by certain people who like to cultivate their victimhood and wear it on their sleeve.
Dan, I agree with you up to a point: outright false and frivolous claims are destructive. Those aren't unknown. Yet we don't have the data to draw a conclusion that exaggerated accusations are prevalent. Nobody has ever done a scientific or scholarly study of Wikipedia with regard to stalking and harassment. And as I outlined above, there are powerful dynamics that discourage open discussion. My firsthand experience and anecdotal data say that harassment and stalking affect a very small portion of Wikipedia's volunteers overall, but among prolific contributors to controversial subjects it is not nearly as rare as you suggest. The problem is real, serious, and underreported.